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Pet care video to learn more about ear infections in dogs and cats (Otitis Externa). We'll discuss testing and diagnosis ...
and therapies and treatment for your pet.
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Dr. Mike: Hello! I’m Dr. Mike. Otitis Externa or ear infection is a common problem in both dogs and cats. In fact many pets suffer from mild chronic infections that may not be noticed by an owner until a veterinarian examines the ear. For brief introduction to Otitis Externa we are going to meet with Dr. Amy Parker from Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
Dr. Amy Parker: Otitis Externa is simply the inflammation of the external ear canal. Ear infections and ear inflammation in dogs and cats can be due to allergies and those can be environmental allergies or food allergies. And sometimes in cats mainly it can be due to parasites like ear mites.
In dogs they can also have hormonal imbalances like hypo thyroidism, auto immune diseases. Every once in a while we may find tumors or polyps that are leading to inflammation and infection in the ear canal. Also just daily environmental things that they do like swimming, water can get into the ear canal and cause inflammation. Hair growth in the ear canal can do it also. Sometimes we also find that if we are cleaning too much then that can cause the inflammation too.
Some breeds are predisposed to ear infections especially the floppy-eared breeds like Cocker Spaniels, some Retrievers also. Some breeds can have narrowed ear canal, Sharpies, Chows and those narrowing and the floppy ears lead to the inflammation and infection can build up and cause worsening.
Clinical signs of Otitis Externa or inflammation of the ear can simply be reddening of the ear canal, pus, wax or debris and even odor coming from the ear, head shaking, scratching, rubbing and even abnormal behavior. We may also notice hearing loss.
First thing with diagnosing ear infections is physical exam, looking for the redness and wax that are grouping in the ear. We may also do a swab where we take sample from the ear and put it on the slide and look under the microscope and look for organism such as yeast and bacteria. Along we have mites if we think that’s present. Additionally, we may take a culture from the ear and send it to the lab and they will culture that bacteria and see what antibiotic it’s susceptible to so we know the treatment that we are giving them is correct.
Treatment of Otitis Externa could be either medical or surgical. Medical treatment may include flushing and cleaning the ears, topical antibiotic or anti fungal treatment, along with anti- inflammatory corticoid steroids to decrease the inflammation. Or if the ears are bad enough then surgery may be indicated.
If you notice any of this clinical signs that you may think that your dog has ear infection, seeing a veterinarian as soon as possible is important for treatment not only to relieve the pain and the infection in the ear but to also prevent any future complications with the ear infections.
Dr. Mike: Dr. Parker mentions several factors that may lead to ear infections, understanding that the anatomy of the ear canal especially in certain breeds of dogs with large floppy ears actually creates the perfect environment for bacteria and yeast. Getting water in the ear or foreign body can also be pre disposing factors. One of the most common causes of ear infections in pet is an allergy. This may be an allergy to something in your pet’s food or something in the environment.
I recommend that you ask your veterinarian what test need to be performed to determine the cause of the infection. The earlier the problem is identified the more effective and the less likely that the problem will become chronic.